There’s not much that bugs us more than a bunch of party crashing mosquitoes forcing us back indoors on beautiful days. Most of our Patio Essentials team lives in Minnesota where we only get a few short months of summer, so we know how important it is to enjoy every minute of it! We understand that you want products that are proven to reduce annoyance from mosquitoes.
We don’t just take citronella for granted as a commonly-known mosquito repellent; we are committed to testing our products to make sure they work as intended. While citronella oil has been used for decades to help keep bugs at bay, especially in outdoor candles, there’s always a question as to how well it really works. That’s why we partnered with a professional product testing laboratory, which specializes in measuring mosquito repellency, to test our torches using our ScatterBug torch fuel.
ScatterBug is our premium torch fuel blend because it contains both cedarwood (.8%) and citronella (.2%) essential oils. This blend combines two essential oils known to help keep mosquitoes away, and the cedarwood has a warm, wood fragrance. To learn more about our different torch fuels, check out our comparison blog post!
The lab designed a study to test how well a perimeter of four torches burning our Scatterbug torch fuel repels mosquitoes in an outdoor setting. To attract mosquitoes, the lab uses a machine that emits CO2, which is the same substance humans produce when we breathe out. The bait machine includes bags allowing researchers to catch and count any mosquitoes that land on it. Researchers place one bait machine inside four outdoor screen cages and release mosquitoes into the cages. The number of mosquitoes caught in the bait machine at the end of the testing period simulates the number of mosquitoes that would have bitten a human during that same time frame under the same conditions.
The researchers selected two of the four cages to receive four torches filled with Scatterbug Torch Fuel, while the other two cages did not receive any repellent and served as the untreated control. The researchers allowed the torches to burn for a 40-minute warmup period before releasing mosquitoes into all four screen cages (more on that warmup period later!) At the same time, they also placed catch bags in the bait traps and turned on the machine to emit CO2 for one hour. At the end of the one-hour test period, they removed the bags from the bait machines and counted the mosquitoes, comparing the two cages with the four torches burning Scatterbug against the two without (or the untreated control.) We would expect the cages with the Scatterbug torches to have fewer mosquitoes approaching the bait and getting trapped than the cages with no repellent present.
The researchers repeated the test four times and calculated the average repellency of Scatterbug compared with no repellent. After one hour, there was an average of 141.3 mosquitoes caught in the cages with no repellent present, as compared to an average of 45.3 mosquitoes caught in the cages with Scatterbug. Therefore, Scatterbug shows 68% repellency when compared with no repellent, when 4 torches are placed in a square perimeter spaced 18-36 inches apart from each other, or what we like to call a “barrier of protection.”
If you’ve read our other post on the efficacy of our indoor/outdoor AquaFlame color-changing fountains with our high purity citronella oil, you’ll notice that the four Scatterbug torches performed a lot better than a single AquaFlame. That’s because the repellent effect of any citronella product will be enhanced as you add more of them to your outdoor space, especially on calm days without much breeze. For best results, we recommend using multiple citronella products, spaced 18-36 inches apart, around the perimeter of your outdoor space within three feet of where people will gather. Learn more about how this helps make your citronella products more effective in our “What is a Barrier of Protection” blog post!
It also helps to allow citronella products time to “warm-up” before getting the party started, which is why the researches allowed the torches to burn for 40 minutes before beginning the test – just remember to never leave a burning torch or candle unattended! We recommend lighting your candles and torches while you’re warming up the grill or pulling out any lawn games, chairs or tables so that you’re able to keep an eye on them and get your set up done all at once.
The citronella products used to create your perimeter can be citronella candles, torches filled with citronella torch fuel, or our indoor/outdoor AquaFlame with citronella essential oil. Besides being committed to testing our products to make sure that they actually will help you keep the bugs away, we also put a lot of focus into selecting and offering items that will look great in your outdoor space. Whether you prefer something small and simple, large and decorative or easily transportable for camping trips, we’ve got you covered!